Staff Reviews / Book Reviews

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and teens! These book reviews also are published at; follow us for the latest updates.

"This Song Will Save Your Life" by Leila Sales

'This Song Will Save Your Life' by Leila Sales

★★★★ Elise has always struggled to make friends, so much so that she had even once turned to suicide as an answer to her loneliness. After her failed attempt at suicide, she continued to be a loser at school. Just as Elise is resigned that her life will never get better and be what she knows it could, she haphazardly discovers an underground dance club. This club not only helps her to make some real friends, it also helps her to discover that ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "This Song Will Save Your Life" at »

"I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star" by Judy Greer

'I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star' by Judy Greer

★★★ You may know Judy Greer from her numerous roles as a co-star in movies such as 13 Going on 30 and The Wedding Planner, and her collection of essays is perfect for readers looking for a light read this summer. Greer has a tendency to ramble as she recounts her life and her career as an actress. Sometimes she is quite funny, especially the essay describing a red carpet dress disaster, but other essays seem almost forced and less engaging. Pa ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star" at »

"The Registry" by Shannon Stoker

'The Registry' by Shannon Stoker

★★★★★ Looking for a new dystopian trilogy? Look no further! This is a book that will be hard to put down and will leave you wishing you had the next book. In this new America, girls are raised to be brides and sold to the highest bidder, and boys are raised to be soldiers ready to fight. Follow eighteen year old Mia as she goes on a journey to be a free woman and see what happens to create "The Registry". ...

Reviewed by Heather B. Read more reviews of "The Registry" at »

"The Painter" by Peter Heller

'The Painter' by Peter Heller

★★★★★ Peter Heller brings us a beautifully written novel about a famous New Mexico artist names Jim Stegner whose life seems to spiral around in destructive chaos. Jim has a history of violence and loss, but is trying to move forward as he finds a new home that offers him peace and quiet, a place to paint, and great fishing. However, Jim's peaceful existence is not to be, as he comes head to head with a wrong he can't walk away from. A tale of b ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Painter" at »

"I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai

'I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban' by Malala Yousafzai

★★★★★ This fascinating and thought provoking memoir takes us into the world of schoolchildren in the Swat Valley of Pakistan; a world not often experienced by outsiders since the takeover of the Taliban. Malala faces adversity, including the brutal attack in which she was shot in the face by the Taliban, with the courage that comes from being passionate about every child's right to receive an education. This book inspires compassion, understandi ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" at »

"The Untold" by Courtney Collins

'The Untold' by Courtney Collins

★★★★★ This brilliantly told story of Jessie Hickman, a female horse thief, set in 1920s Australia is a darkly captivating must read. Based on the real life Jessie Hickman, the story unfolds as the tough and free-spirited Jessie tries desperately to procure her freedom from her abusive husband and captor Fitz. This novel will rope you in and hold your attention to the very end! ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Untold" at »

"The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat" by James Bowen

'The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat' by James   Bowen

★★★★★ A continuation of his first book, "A Street Cat Named Bob," Bowen details more adventures with his beloved and extraordinary cat, Bob, and provides further insights into his own life. It is heart-warming once again to witness the transformative power of the human/animal bond and the lessons that can be learned if one's heart is open to them. I freely admit to being a cat lover, but any person with an open heart will love both books. They c ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat" at »

"Say What You Will" by Cammie McGovern

'Say What You Will' by Cammie McGovern

★★★★ Meet Amy and Mathew, two teens with different types of disabilities who somehow find one another and become best friends. When Amy leaves for college, they both need to realize their limitations or abilities, and learn to adapt to life without one another. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of recently popular teen fiction. This book explores people with disabilities in an unexpected way and succeeds in helping the rea ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Say What You Will" at »

"Life's That Way: A Memoir" by Jim Beaver

'Life's That Way: A Memoir' by Jim Beaver

★★★★★ Life's That Way is a beautiful and moving memoir by Jim Beaver, the talented actor who I came to know from the TV series Supernatural. His memoir is a heartbreaking, touching, but also uplifting recounting of his wife's battle with cancer and daughter's battle with autism. Told through the heart-wrenching emails Jim Beaver sent to their family and friends, he writes with a strength and beauty that astounded me. I couldn't stop reading. Jim ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Life's That Way: A Memoir" at »

"The Perfume Collector" by Kathleen Tessaro

'The Perfume Collector' by Kathleen Tessaro

★★★★ This is a lovely, yet predictable novel about a woman who inherits an apartment in Paris from someone she has never met. Grace is living unhappily in England when she discovers the mysterious Eva d'Orsey left her a beautiful apartment and a generous stock portfolio. A richly-detailed work of historical fiction, Tessaro weaves together the duo plotlines of Grace in the 1950s and Eva in the 1920s. Grace unravels the mystery of an abandoned p ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "The Perfume Collector" at »

"In New York" by Marc Brown

'In New York' by Marc Brown

★★★★★ Learn about New York City, the beloved home to the author and illustrator of this book! This is a great book for elementary school aged children, who will learn facts about New York's history to the present day. Of course all of the landmarks are beautifully depicted through the artwork and illustrations of this book. You definitely get the feeling that the author really loves his city and is excited to share it with young readers. Having ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "In New York" at »

"The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra" by Helen Rappaport

'The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra' by Helen Rappaport

★★★★★ This book navigates the daily lives of the four Russian Grand Duchesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia until their death in 1918. Rappaport discusses how unusual Alexandra’s upbringing of her children compared to other Russian royalty and also, how her ill health often affected her children’s lives. Rappaport also delves into the girls varying personalities and trials; from war-time activities to dealing with their brother’s he ...

Reviewed by Kate S. Read more reviews of "The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra" at »

"The Stranger You Know (Maeve Kerrigan #4)" by Jane Casey

'The Stranger You Know (Maeve Kerrigan #4)' by Jane Casey

★★★★★ The most recent book in the Maeve Kerrigan detective series finds Maeve tracking a serial killer hunting young women throughout London. He leaves no clues behind, but the facts of the case have an eerie similarity to an incident her partner DCI Derwent was involved in during his teens. Maeve can't believe Derwent would be involved, but the more she begins to learn about his past, she starts to question everything. I highly recommend this b ...

Reviewed by Laura W. Read more reviews of "The Stranger You Know (Maeve Kerrigan #4)" at »

"Shotgun Lovesongs" by Nickolas Butler

'Shotgun Lovesongs' by Nickolas Butler

★★★★★ This debut novel from Wisconsin-based author Nickolas Butler is worthy of the abundant praise received from critics and readers. Set in the fictional rural town of Little Wing, Wisconsin, five friends undergo major life changes, from marriage to recording a bestselling album. Chapters are written from the perspective of each of the five as their friendship is tested. A character-driven novel, Butler gives each character depth, including fl ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Shotgun Lovesongs" at »

"Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures, #1)" by Kami Garcia

'Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures, #1)' by Kami Garcia

★★ This book is a disappointing attempt at a spin-off series from the writers of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, the popular teen series about the supernatural world of Casters (witches) in South Carolina. Link and Ridley, now an on-again, off-again couple with magical abilities, escape their fictitious southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina, and head to New York City. The plot is confusing and clunky, especially when the book begins with a Ridley firs ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures, #1)" at »

"Millie Fierce Sleeps Out" by Jane Manning

'Millie Fierce Sleeps Out' by Jane Manning

★★★★ Millie has been fierce-free all summer so her mother agrees to let her have a sleep-out in a tent in the backyard with her friends. Of course all does not go smoothly during her sleep-out, and Millie needs to often force herself to control her fierceness until it is absolutely necessary to frighten off a scary dog. Colorfully and humorously illustrated, this picture book demonstrates the importance of self-control in an understandable way ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Millie Fierce Sleeps Out" at »

"Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes" by Elizabeth Bard

'Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes' by Elizabeth Bard

★★★★ If you are a travel and food enthusiast, then this is a great book for you! Lunch In Paris is a memoir telling the story of how the author, Elizabeth, met her Parisian husband and ended up living in Paris. Not only does Elizabeth give up a life in the United States for love but she needs to learn a new way of life while discovering a new direction for her life. As she grows, she learns about food in a whole new way and becomes something of ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes" at »

"A Walk in Paris" by Salvatore Rubbino

'A Walk in Paris' by Salvatore Rubbino

★★★★ Accompany a girl and her grandfather on their walk through Paris! All of the splendor of the most well known landmarks of the city are visited and portrayed in a sighteeing tour. The beautiful illustrations and simple story make for a wonderful journey for any young reader. In addition to the story, there are fun facts about Paris on every page for the most inquisitive minds. I was transported to the "City of Light" for a time while readin ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "A Walk in Paris" at »

"The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" by Sheila Turnage

'The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing' by Sheila Turnage

★★★★ The Desperado Detectives are back! This time, Mo and Dale set out to uncover a ghostly mystery: the murder of Nellie Blake and her haunting of the Tupelo Inn. When Miss Lana accidently purchases the inn at an auction, Mo wants her to turn it into a successful business. But who would want to visit the haunted inn with Nellie creating havoc? This is a great sequel to the first book, Three Times Lucky, and is full of Mo's humor and wit. This ...

Reviewed by Taylor W. Read more reviews of "The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" at »

"Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians" by Brian Garfield

'Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians' by Brian Garfield

★★★★★ This is not your typical war and battle narrative. Brian Garfield's dry humor and narrative style will keep you engaged to the very end. This little known theater of war during WWII, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, was described as "the weirdest war ever waged". Submarines, battleships and bombers all played second fiddle to the ferocious weather; weather so formidable that even trees are unable to grow in the raging winds and sunless day ...

Reviewed by Karen J. Read more reviews of "Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians" at »

"The Lion and the Bird" by Marianne Dubuc

'The Lion and the Bird' by Marianne Dubuc

★★★★ Lion kindly helps a bird who is cold and wounded and provides a warm place for the winter. They have a lovely time together, but when spring comes and bird's flock returns, he has to join them. This heart-touching universal tale about friendship, love and the ties that bind us is wonderfully told, and simply, but beautifully, illustrated. Preschoolers, their parents and grandparents will love it! ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "The Lion and the Bird" at »

"TIME-LIFE World War II in 500 Photographs" by TIME/LIFE BOOKS

'TIME-LIFE World War II in 500 Photographs' by TIME/LIFE BOOKS

★★★★ This 2014 Time Life Books release is a nicely-done visual guide to the Second World War. Arranged chronologically, it offers up page after page of black and white or color photographs depicting battlefield and home front events as well as personalities such as FDR, Churchill, Hitler, Himmler, Stalin, Eisenhower, Patton, etc. The images are complimented by an easy-to-follow text that explains the many facets of the most significant event of ...

Reviewed by Mike O. Read more reviews of "TIME-LIFE World War II in 500 Photographs" at »

"Fear Nothing (Detective D.D. Warren, #7)" by Lisa Gardner

'Fear Nothing (Detective D.D. Warren, #7)' by Lisa Gardner

★★★★ Two sister's who lived in hell. One went to prison, and one felt no pain. Foster home after foster home, one adopted by a doctor. One was a killer and one a doctor, with very special talents. Now after 30 years, the killing starts all over again. D. D. Warren is trying to manage Melvin and work the case. The case she shouldn't be on. Who will kill the "Rose killer"? That is the question. Will the two sisters be ...

Reviewed by Deb F. Read more reviews of "Fear Nothing (Detective D.D. Warren, #7)" at »

"Guy in Real Life" by Steve Brezenoff

'Guy in Real Life' by Steve Brezenoff

★★★★ So you read "Eleanor and Park" and you're looking for something similar. Look no farther, as I have your next read right here! Steven Brezenoff's "Guy in Real Life," is an excellent companion to "Eleanor and Park." Lesh is into heavy metal and black dusters. After a Labor Day metal show, he drunkenly smashed into worries, he's walking and she's riding a bike. Even though he knows nothing about her, Lesh is captured by her. Af ...

Reviewed by Julie K. Read more reviews of "Guy in Real Life" at »

"Alive!" by Reader's Digest

'Alive!' by Reader's Digest

★★★★ Have you ever wondered what it feels like to survive a tornado, flood or shark attack? ALIVE is a compilation of first-person articles previously published in the READER'S DIGEST magazine that describe such events. Twenty-two people share their memorable experiences with airplane crashes, cougar attacks, avalanches, firestorms and so on. It makes for gripping but not graphic reading. All the stories have an inspirational message. ...

Reviewed by Mike O. Read more reviews of "Alive!" at »

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